Tuesday, September 2, 2014

'No, Taib Mahmud is not richest man in Malaysia'

11:17AM Sep 2, 2014
By Hafiz Yatim

Former Sarawak chief minister's son Mahmud Abu Bekir Taib denied today that his father, Abdul Taib Mahmud, is the richest person in Malaysia.

Testifying during his examination-in-chief by his lawyer Zainur Rijal Abu Bakar in the Kuala Lumpur Syariah High Court, Abu Bekir (right) also denied that he had acted violently against his former wife, Shahnaz Abdul Majid.

“All the allegations she made are out of anger and these are all false and empty allegations. This includes the allegation that my father is the richest man in Malaysia. This is illogical,” he said on the witness stand.

Abu Bekir, 50, said he has never hit Shahnaz and described himself as a very shy person.

“I deny her description in the statement of claim (for mutaah, gift following divorce) that I was violent and short tempered,” he said.

Shahnaz (right) is seeking RM100 million in mutaah (gift) following their divorce.

In fact, Abu Bekir claimed, that it was Shahnaz who acted violently against him, as she would sometimes try to scratch his face in some disputes.

However, the witness said, he would stop his wife from doing so and would push her to the floor but he denied being violent with her.

Abu Bekir also said he had also cared for their only child and refuted claims that he did not support Shahnaz on this.

“I asked her to inform me how much are his tuition fees for our son's study in the United Kingdom, but she did not furnish her details. As a result, she is claiming child matrimonial claim from me. All her claims that I do not care for our son are baseless,” he said.

He also said he purchased a watch for Shahnaz that cost between RM80,000 and RM150,000 and bought her countless items of jewellery, worth hundreds of thousands of ringgit.

“It is something (jewellery) she likes a lot,” Abu Bekir said, adding that he paid Shahnaz RM10,000 or more following their separation and this continued six months after their divorce. He also bought a house in Damansara, at a cost of RM1.5 million, which is placed under Shahnaz's name and he paid the loan.

The couple was divorced on March 11, 2011.

'No billion ringgit transactions'

Abu Bekir also denied that he has engaged in billions of ringgit worth of transactions in his companies and said the worth could be just millions of ringgit.

He also denied owning some of the companies listed in Shahnaz's mutaah statement of claim.

Some of the companies that Abu Bekir claimed he does not own include Radiant Lagdon, Essential Straits and Celerity Design.

“For example, the document (statement of claim) described me as the executive chairperson of Cahya Mata Sarawak. This is wrong as I am only the deputy chairperson.”

He also denied the testimony by Shahnaz's hired accountant, who valued the land he owns as worth hundreds of millions ringgit.

Abu Bekir also refuted claims that the land is planted with oil palm trees as claimed.

“The accountant had not visited the land. It is not filled with palm oil plantations but shrubs or bushes. How do you value bushes or shrubs?” he asked.

Abu Bekir explained further how he obtained some of the lands where his companies are involved in government projects, such as building bridges.

“The state government does not have ample funds to pay back for the construction of the bridges so it awards the land as payment,” he said, adding that he has to pay his contractors and suppliers for the construction.

Abu Bekir said he accepted the lands as payment in kind but acknowledged that some of the properties have been sold off, as he had to pay the contractors and suppliers for the construction of the projects.

The hearing before Kuala Lumpur Syariah High Court judge Muhamad Abdul Karim Wahab continues on Sept 8.

Shahnaz is represented by Akbardin Abdul Kadir and Rafie Mohd Shafie.

~ Malaysiakini

Don is free to comment within his area of expertise

September 2, 2014
By international standards, it is widely regarded as an academic right to comment on subjects and issues where the academic is an expert.
Dr.-James-Chin seditionPETALNG JAYA: A university professor has the right to comment on an issue if he is an expert on that topic.
Fellow academician, Dr James Chin of Monash University, who backed his colleague by saying Azmi Sharom should not be charged if he was speaking within his area of expertise.
Azmi Sharom was charged with sedition act today for an article that appeared on Malay Mail Online on 14th August where he gave a professional opinion as a law professor on Selangor MB crisis.
Chin said, “By international standards, it is widely regarded as an academic right to comment on subjects and issues where the academic is an expert.
“So for example, an engineering professor has the right to comment on an engineering issue but he or she may not be taken seriously if he or she talks about non- engineering matters such as heart attacks.
“I understand that Dr Azmi wrote a legal opinion which is within his area of expertise as a law professor at UM. If this is the case, then he should not be charged for sedition.
Universiti Malaya Law Society president, Chai Duwei said the charges againts their faculty member was “shocking.”
“These unprecedented charges is definitely a big blow to academic freedom.
“The UM Law Society will continue to stand in solidarity with Dr Azmi Sharom,” Duwei said.
In recent weeks, a number of opposition politicians have been slapped with sedition charges, most notably Rafizi Ramli, N Surendran and Khalid Samad of PKR.
The case against Azmi Sharom, however, is unprecedented as he is the first academician to be charged for speaking in his professional capacity as a law professor from one of Malaysia’s premier academic institution.
Several NGO’s including Bersih and Bar Council has been calling for a repeal of the Act which was originally enacted by colonial Britain to curb talk of independence and communism in pre-independent Malaya.
~ Free Malaysia Today

Indonesian minister: 'Allah' ban going too far

3:32PM Sep 2, 2014
By Darshini Kandasamy
Prohibiting use of the word 'Allah' by non-Muslims is taking things a bit "too far", says Indonesia's newly-minted minister of religious affairs.

Minister Lukman Hakim Saifuddin said the word 'Allah' should not be exclusive to any one religion.

"The ministry feels this (having such a prohibition) is going a bit too far. To me, anyone can use the word ('Allah').

"Muslims themselves (in Indonesia) are different, in their accents, in how they greet one another and how they mention God," Lukman (left) said.

He said this when asked for his view on the ruling by Malaysia's Federal Court, which upheld the Home Ministry's ban on use of the word Allah by Catholic weekly Herald.

However, Lukman did not refer specifically to Malaysia in his response.

The minister, who took office in June, was speaking to senior journalists at a roundtable in  the ministry's office in Jakarta, organised by US-based East-West Center this morning.

He said he was confident such a claim for exclusivity to Islam in the use of the word would not spread in the republic.

In a majority decision last June, Malaysia's highest court refused to grant leave to hear the appeal by the Catholic Church in the "Allah" case.

It thereby upheld the Court of Appeal decision overturning the High Court’s 2009  ruling that the ban on the use of ‘Allah’ by the Heraldwas invalid.

~ Malaysiakini

'No sedition crackdown? PMO, we're not stupid'

9:21AM Sep 1, 2014
By Yoursay

YOURSAY ‘Court only passes judgment. It does not investigate and prosecute.’

Putrajaya says sedition spree a 'court matter'
Homesick: The statement by the PM’s Office (that the current sedition spree is a court matter) is the biggest insult to the rakyat's intelligence.

For your information, the court only passes judgment. It does not investigate and prosecute. Investigation and prosecution are done by the police and the Attorney-General’s Chambers, respectively.

Both of these departments are under the federal government. So don't insult our intelligence. The rakyat are smarter than you thought, Mr PM.

JustAMalaysian: Every law student knows that an enforcement agency initiates the investigation into any alleged or suspected offence.

The DPP (on behalf of the attorney-general) decides whether the case merits prosecution and, if an offence is revealed by the investigation, proffers a charge in the court of law and after a full hearing, the court decides whether the accused is guilty or not guilty of the offence he is charged with.

As can be seen, it is only after a charge is registered in the court that it becomes a matter for the court. The court does not initiate an investigation, and neither it decide to prosecute.

It is the police and the attorney-general who determine whether someone is investigated and charged under the Sedition Act 1948.

The person from the Prime Minister's Office who made the statement above is either stupid and not fit to hold office or he does not know how to lie or ‘putar belit’ (spin). I only have sympathy for him.

UntaSenyum: At least 10 Pakatan Rakyat leaders are facing sedition charges, and almost simultaneously. The rakyat are not ‘bodoh’ (stupid).

We can compare all the opposition leaders’ remarks with those made by Perkasa, Isma, Ridhuan Tee Abdullah and the likes. It is so obvious this is selective prosecution.

It looks like a 'final onslaught' on Pakatan leaders. Even a secondary school student can tell you that.

Hearty Malaysian: A case of a desperate and weak government trying to muzzle the opposition with a slew of seditious charges.

PM Najib Abdul Razak, you simply underestimate the intelligence of people. This is no more the 1960s, where what the PM said was accepted blindly by the majority of people.

Keturunan Malaysia: This quote is from 1957; how accurately it describes many countries we know in 2014:

"When you see that in order to produce, you need to obtain permission from men who produce nothing. When you see money flowing to those who deal, not in goods, but in favours.

“When you see that men get richer by graft and pull than by work, and your laws don't protect you against them, but protect them against you. When you see corruption being rewarded and honesty becoming self-sacrifice, you may know that your society is doomed." - Ayn Rand.

Vijay47: A matter for the courts? Malaysia must be the only country in the world where the judiciary institutes and enforces prosecution action.

Does this, hopefully, mean that the AG's Chambers will be disbanded and Abdul Gani Patail will be put to pasture?

Onyourtoes: This is just great, the police said it was AG, now it is the court. Soon, the court will say it is AG and police.

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~ Malaysiakini

Law don denies sedition, raps academic stifling

12:49PM Sep 2, 2014
By Adrian Wong
Universiti Malaya law lecturer Azmi Sharom pleaded not guilty to charges under the Sedition Act today.

Azmi, an associate professor, posted his RM5,000 bail and the case has been fixed for mention on Oct 3.

He was charged under Section 4 (1)(b) of the Sedition Act, with an alternative charge under Section 4 (1)(c) of the same Act, for a seditious remark made on Aug 15.

The charge sheet states that Azmi published the seditious remark at the Crime Investigation Department of the Kuala Lumpur police headquarters.

He is alleged to have written the seditious remarks in an article titled "Take Perak crisis route for speedy end to Selangor impasse, Pakatan told", published by the Malay Mail online portal.

An attachment to the charge sheet highlight two sentences in the article.
The sentences are  : “You don’t want a repeat of that, where a secret meeting took place.” and “I think what happened in Perak was legally wrong. The best thing to do is do it as legally and transparently as possible.” 
If convicted, Azmi faces either a maximum fine of RM5,000 or three years in prison, or both.

At a press conference later, Azmi said he was "shocked" to learn that he was being charged with sedition for comments he made on the Perak crisis of 2009.

'My statements based on democratic principles'
Azmi said his statements were made in his capacity as a law lecturer.
"My statements were based on established case laws and democratic principles. They were given in my capacity as a law lecturer of 24 years standing."
Azmi also condemned the draconian law and described the charge against him as "a blow to academic freedom and the freedom of expression".

His lawyer Gobind Singh Deo said they will file to strike off the charge and challenge the constitutionality of the Sedition Act.
Gobind further urged Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, who promised to repel the Sedition Act, to keep his word.
"What we are seeing now is completely opposite what the prime minister said and the Act is being used more readily and frequently today than it was before.

"This is not in line or consistent with the stand taken by the PM. The law is outdated and needs to be repealed."
"The attorney-general should take heed of the fact that this is a law that has been criticised worldwide. People say it is outdated and not applicable to today's circumstances, age and time," Gobind said
He also said the charges against Azmi may stifle academic freedom, especially on constitutional matters. 

About 100 people showed up in court in support of the associate professor, among them prominent activists Marina Mahathir and Zainah Anwar, Lembah Pantai MP Nurul Izzah Anwar and a group of Universiti Malaya students.

Some UM students held up placards that read "Free Azmi";"We are all Azmi Sharom"; and "Free the university".
~ Malaysiakini

Courtroom packed as supporters await professor’s sedition charge

Published: 2 September 2014
Universiti Malaya law professor Azmi Sharom arrives at Jalan Duta Court with his lawyer Gobind Singh today. – The Malaysian Insider pic by Afif Abd Halim, September 2, 2014. 
Universiti Malaya law professor Azmi Sharom arrives at Jalan Duta Court with his lawyer Gobind Singh today. – The Malaysian Insider pic by Afif Abd Halim, September 2, 2014.
Academics, activists, students and lawyers packed into the small courtroom in the Kuala Lumpur High Court this morning in a show of support for Universiti Malaya (UM) law professor Azmi Sharom, who is expected to be charged with sedition today.
The collective sentiment among the people waiting for proceedings to begin was disbelief that an academic could face punishment for sharing his expert views with the media.
Quips of “Who will be charged next?" and “The lawyers must be so used to handling such cases" could be heard among the waiting crowd, some whom had been standing in the courtroom for two hours.
Dressed in a dark blue shirt and black trousers with his hair pulled back in a ponytail, Azmi himself appeared relaxed and jovial as he spoke to his colleagues and moved around the packed courtroom.

The UM academic staff association head will be the first academic to be hauled up by Putrajaya and charged under the Sedition Act.

The law lecturer will be charged over an article titled "Take Perak crisis route for speedy end to Selangor impasse, Pakatan told" which was published in an online news portal on August 14.

"If you believe in world class universities, academics should be allowed to make professional comments. He is from the law faculty. He shouldn't be charged," Rosli Mahat, vice-president of the UM academic staff association, told The Malaysian Insider.

Rosli was present with several other UM staff and said the action against Azmi was an affront to the education institution.

"I know that Azmi, whatever he says, choose his words carefully. He knows what is right and wrong," said Rosli.

Safwan Shamsuddin, the chairman of student group Pro Mahasiswa UM, told The Malaysian Insider that he had gathered 20 students today to support the professor.

He said the students were fed up with the authorities using the Sedition Act to muzzle individuals seemingly critical of the government.

"It's like they are playing around with us. They announced they would repeal it, but now they are taking action again," he said.

"It's obvious that they are using any means to persecute government detractors, including students and lecturers. First, it was Professor Redzuan Othman, now Professor Azmi."

In July, Redzuan, a lecturer with UM, said he was sacked as director of Universiti Malaya's Centre for Democracy and Elections (UMcedel).

His tenure as dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences in the university was also not renewed.

Over the past few years, UMcedel's survey findings on Malaysian politics have irked Putrajaya for their unflattering analyses on the ruling Barisan Nasional.

The past few weeks have witnessed the largest crackdown since October 1987's Operasi Lalang.

In recent days, a number of opposition politicians – PKR vice-president Rafizi Ramli, Padang Serai MP N. Surendran (PKR), Shah Alam MP and PAS central committee member Khalid Samad, and Seri Delima assemblyman R.S.N. Rayer (DAP) – have all been charged under the Sedition Act.

Seputeh MP Teresa Kok (DAP) and Batu MP Tian Chua (PKR) are also facing trial for sedition, while former Perak MP and Changkat Jering assemblyman Nizar Jamaluddin (PAS) was charged with criminal defamation for a statement he had allegedly made two years ago.

The slew of sedition charges comes two years after Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak first promised to repeal the Sedition Act 1948.

Najib in July 2013 announced for the second time his intention to repeal the 66-year-old act when he was interviewed by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), saying it would be replaced by a new National Harmony Act.

But critics of the act have observed that since Najib’s announcement, an increasing number of opposition politicians are being charged for sedition.

In a statement three days ago, the Prime Minister's Office said the government would repeal the Sedition Act and replace it with the National Harmony Bill as pledged, adding that it was currently in drafting stage. – September 2, 2014.

- See more at: http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/courtroom-packed-as-supporters-await-professors-sedition-charge#sthash.bJtyDR4S.dpuf

Musa Hitam blames Putrajaya for Malay dilemma

Published: 31 August 2014

The Malays are suffering from inferiority complex because of Putrajaya’s preaching that the community is backward and always in need of assistance, said former deputy prime minister Tun Musa Hitam.

"Putrajaya has mentioned several times that it has a target of increasing the Bumiputera equity ownership in the national economic pie to 30% by 2020.

"But, the government does not take government-linked companies into account when they point out that the present Bumiputera equity ownership is 24%.

"We are deluding ourselves by continuously pointing a finger at the Chinese. There is no such thing as perfection," Musa told The Malaysian Insider in an exclusive at the World Islamic Economic Forum (WIEF) office in Hampshire Place, Kuala Lumpur.
Musa, who is the WIEF chairman, said the race issue had been played upon numerous times and has had a negative effect on Malaysia.
"Only bankrupt politicians continually use race and religion to win support.
"Do not get me wrong, I am Umno through and through, even if I am may not talk like a mainstream party member.
"We cannot adopt the attitude of 50 years ago. We have to keep progressing and updating ourselves."
Musa said the New Economic Policy introduced by former prime minister Tun Abdul Razak Hussein was to improve the livelihood of Malays.
"The NEP was to lift the Malay community in Malaysia and to remove their inferiority complex."
He said that there were many Malays who had performed well and now made up the middle class of Malaysia, and that they could rationalise for themselves.
But, he regretted that there was a gap between the current generation and certain leaders in Putrajaya as they appeared to be on different wavelengths.
"Some leaders do not appear to be in sync with the very people whom they have trained."
He recalled an incident with a group of youths over a meal while travelling to Johor for a holiday:
"A group of 30 to 40 Malay youths stopped by the eatery where my wife and I were eating."
"Some of them recognised me and approached us. After exchanging pleasantries, one of the boys asked whether they could share something with me.
"I said go ahead, by all means. The youths told me in a rather apologetic manner that they were anti-government."
He said he told the youths the fact that they disagreed with Putrajaya was born out of the previous administrations, which reflected democracy.
"Many quarters take it for granted that Malay leadership is the most important factor. But, there are many other challenges to that due to the open society we live in.
"I am also saddened and disappointed by some of the comments and remarks made by the present leaders.
"They do not appear to have done their homework and research before saying something.
"More often than not, many of the present leaders talk first and then realise they have made an error later when it is too late to retract their statement."
Musa said the current leadership had shown that they were unable to deal with sensitive issues like religion.
"The Malays seem to be confused about religion. The non-Malays are appalled at what is happening among the leadership in Putrajaya. "
He said politicians want to be seen as belonging, "so nobody speaks about the subject, for fear that they will be viewed as being anti-Islam".
On Christians using “Allah”, he said: "Whatever the arguments which have been raised, the simple fact of the matter is that it was decided that only Muslims in the peninsula have ownership of the word 'Allah'."
Musa was amazed and astounded that the issue had been blown all out of proportion.
"If you are confident about your religion, there is no need to worry about Malays getting confused if the word 'Allah' is used by non-Malays."
During his stint as education minister between 1978 and 1981, Musa said Christian representatives approached him.
"At that time, the government was encouraging the use of Bahasa Malaysia by all races, including Christians.
"There were no Malay-language Bibles at that time and the Christians discovered that Indonesia printed such books.
"They sought permission to import the Malay-language Bibles to Malaysia and I approved it with certain conditions.
"The conditions included importing the Bibles for their own use, to be kept in the church and no open selling or distribution of the Bibles outside of churches."
Musa stood by his decision, saying it was right and a correct compromise as the issue had been quietly settled and rationalised.
"If you want everyone to use the national language, then you should not put roadblocks and obstacles."
On Malaysia today, the 80-year-old said he felt quite depressed and down.
"Malaysia is facing the possibility of becoming a failed state as it does not know how to handle success and the intricacies of politics.
"Sure, there are positives… foreigners are impressed with Malaysia and its infrastructure. Perhaps they get the impression that Malaysians are happy and friendly.
"But there are so many wrongs which have become a right, so many extraordinary things which have become ordinary.
"We pride ourselves on being democratic and embracing the Westminster-style of politics.
"Malaysia must learn how to embrace democracy and be prepared to lose," Musa said, referring to the two-thirds majority which Barisan Nasional used to enjoy.
In the 2008 and 2013 general elections, BN watched as DAP, PKR and PAS began to make inroads into its traditional strongholds.
"Democracy also means understanding the role of criticism and being able to accept it."
Musa said the present leaders adopted the attitude of accepting a single compliment and overlooking the criticism which accompanied it.
"Digital democracy has arrived in this world. It is unpredictable, open, kind and can also be cruel."
On the hudud fracas, Musa was disappointed at how Putrajaya handled it.
"I am reasonably confident that across board, the Malay community is disagreeable to the concept of hudud.
"The image portrayed by hudud of body dismemberment is quite scary and horrifying.
"While PAS has attempted to rationalise the issue, nobody else dares to say openly that he is against it.
"Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak announces Malaysia is not ready for hudud, Umno Youth says who said it is against it?"
Musa cited a solution by former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad on the issue:
" Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad gave a very simplistic yet logical summary of hudud."
"He said if a Malay was caught stealing, his hands would be cut off. But if a non-Malay was caught for the same offence, he would only spend a couple of years in jail.
"This is the way to resolve issues, to do research and rationalise, to give explanations. Nowadays, everyone simply jumps on the bandwagon.
"Nobody dares to disagree."
But, he also admired PAS for standing up to what they believed in.
"Unfortunately, nobody listens to PAS and their explanations." – August 31, 2014.
- See more at: http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/musa-hitam-blames-putrajaya-for-malay-dilemma#sthash.e6PMh1bL.dpuf